Wellington Phoenix assistant coach Chris Greenacre said Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero has not been a major talking point in their side.
Since it was announced the Juventus legend was joining Sydney FC, Del Piero has been the talk of the A-League, but ahead of the NZ club’s clash with Sydney – the star recruit’s league debut – Greenacre revealed the squad have been quiet on their upcoming big-name opponent.
“On the opening day of any season throughout my career you’ve always just wanted to get off to the best possible start and it doesn’t matter who your opposition is,” Greenacre – a former Phoenix striker – said.
“It could be one of the best players in the world or it could be Joe average, you always want to get on that front foot and start doing the right things early on. It gets you in good habits for the rest of the season and that’s what we’re looking to do.”
Sydney coach Ian Crook will afford Del Piero a free playmaking role and it is likely Manny Muscat, who will play in a defensive midfield role this season, will be the Phoenix man charged with trying to contain the former Juventus star, although central defensive duo Ben Sigmund and captain Andrew Durante will also be on red alert.
Both Sigmund and Muscat are known throughout the A-League as uncompromising defenders and while the pair will have due respect for Del Piero, they won’t be overawed by him.
“Everyone has got bets on whether Manny is going to get him first or me,” Sigmund said.
But the All Whites defender knows putting too much focus on one player – no matter how good his pedigree – will leave gaps for others to exploit.
“If we worry too much about what one player is going to do the others will start performing around him. I’m sure they are wary of that,” he added.
“I think it’s important that we perform well individually and as a team.”
Greenacre agreed, adding the Phoenix game plan was not built around nullifying Del Piero.
“It’s a boring old cliché, but it’s about what we do and the way for us to succeed in this league is to make sure we’re the best we can possibly be week in and week out,” the Englishman said.
“We feel that we’re at home and we need to use that home advantage. It’s a strength of ours. It’s about how we deal with the situation.
“Obviously you’ve got to be aware of Del Piero with the quality that he brings. But Sydney aren’t a one-man team. He’s certainly going to want to do the best he possibly can. But it’s about us.”